Blasphemy: Court Dismisses Kano Singer’s Appeal, Upholds Retrial

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A Court of Appeal sitting in Kano State has dismissed an appeal filed against a High Court judgment, ordering retrial of singer Aminu Shariff Yahaya for blasphemy.

The court affirmed that the Kano State Shariah Penal Code of 2000 does not contravene Nigeria constitution.

Delivering the judgement virtually on Wednesday, Justice Abubakar Mu’azu Lamido ruled that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria empowers states through the state assemblies to make laws.

He ruled that Nigeria constitution recognised that there is freedom of religion but does not allow adoption of a state religion.

Yahaya, who was convicted and sentenced to death by a Shariah Court in Kano in August 2020, had earlier asked Kano High Court to squash the judgement.

The Kano High Court, in November 2020, had overruled the sentence and ordered for retrial of the case at the Shariah Court, citing failure to follow proper procedures as the accused had no legal representation in the trial.

Meanwhile, Aminu, through his counsel Kola Alapinni, appealed to Court of Appeal for determination of two issues.

The two issues according to court documents are, “whether the learned High Court Judges were right to order for a retrial instead of an acquittal after quashing, annulling and vacating the position of the Sharia Court.

“Two, whether or not the decision of the High Court is right in declaring that the Kano State Sharia Penal Code Law 2000 is constitutional.”

In the three-judge verdict, Justice Lamido and B. M. Ugo gave majority judgement in favour of the respondent which upheld the High Court decision for retrial as against the dissenting judgement by the third judge.

The Kano Shariah Penal Code 2000 sanctions death penalty for blasphemy specifically targeting the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) upon which the accused is being charged.

Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, at least 12 states in northern Nigeria have adopted Islamic legal system called Shariah in certain designated cases which can reach up to Shariah Court of Appeal.

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